Stephen McMullan of the Irish climbing website Climbing.ie, posted a forum message advising climbers that:
“there will be representatives from the Irish Sports Council conducting anti-doping tests at the Midleton [sic] and DCU rounds of the IBL [Irish Bouldering League]... ...In all likelihood there will be urine testing, more probable for folks getting placed 1,2,3 but also there is the possibility of random testing...”
McMullan's message conveys shock at the level of scrutiny now being applied to previously happy-go-lucky bouldering competitions:
“I'm still reeling at this news. I suppose we just hoped this day would never come.”
In what seems to be an innocent internet posting, pitched at warning his friends about drug testing at their local bouldering competitions, McMullan has caused quite a stir.
According to Mooney of The Times, “The Irish Sports Council (ISC) is to ask the Mountaineering Council of Ireland (MCI) to investigate an e-mail which tipped-off competitive rock climbers about planned anti-doping tests.”
Rob Adie of the BMC commented:
"Drug testing at national competitions in the UK hasn't happened in the past."
However with climbing being pushed towards the Olympics in 2020 it is possible that stringent drug-testing will become more common in climbing competitions throughout the UK.
It's worth noting that recreational drugs show up in these drugs tests, as Chris Sharma found out when he was stripped of his World title back in 2001. Traces of marijuana were found in his urine sample and he was removed from the rankings, handing over the trophy and prize money to Spaniard Dani Andrada who placed second.
At odds with these tests is the fact that hard climbing in the UK has traditionally had a rebellious edge, with many of the top-level protagonists often dabbling in recreational drug use: Pushing the limits of body on routes during the day, and experimenting with the limits of mind during the evenings.
Luckily no-one is recommending drug-testing out on the crag, which is where these top performers may have to concentrate their energies, if they can no longer compete in local bouldering competitions.
Personally I am happy to undertake a drug-test for climbing, and invite any official from the International Federation of Sport Climbing to join me on the Enchanted Broccoli Garden belay at Gogarth, where I will be happy to offer a urine sample.
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